Label: Dog Knights Productions
Bandcamp stream: Link
Amongst the many things that characterised my late teens/early 20s, staying up all hours listening to 90s emo/screamo whilst reading Murakami novels is one of the more mundane, yet somehow important. Despite Murakami’s references to jazz and more popular music in his works, I somehow felt that bands such as Indian Summer provided an apt soundtrack. To me, they both felt like they offered more than what was obvious; that there was something special between the lines, and that these works sought to find the extraordinary in the more mundane parts of life. Granted, that flies in the face of some of Murakami’s more extravagant stories, but the point remains: this style of music will always make me think of Murakami to some extent, and vice versa. And as most of the people I knew who were in to this kind of emotional hardcore were also big fans of Murakami, I doubt I’m the only one who thinks this way.
Given all of this, I wasn’t especially surprised when I heard of Todos Caerán, from Alberta, who initially spent several years trying to sound like Gorilla Biscuits before learning to play and getting into emo (their own words; and for the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong at all with trying to sound like Gorilla Biscuits. More bands should try it). All of their songs on Town Of Cats and preceding LP After Dark are are named after Murakami books. In some manner that’s almost impossible to describe, it makes total sense, and I’m more surprised that there are fewer bands paying the Japanese author credit.
The first point that should be addressed is that, no, a familiarity with Murakami is not required to appreciate Todos Caerán. What might be required, though, is a bit of time and the mental space in which to give this record the attention it deserves. Even if you’re a fan of the band’s influences – and the influence of Funeral Diner, Portraits Of Past, and City Of Caterpillar is obvious to these ears, as well as a healthy dose of Saetia in the vocals – then this is music ill-suited for passive listening. The songs here are generally quite long – only two are less than six minutes – but they never drag or feel bloated, instead being given the time and space required for them to grow and develop in a style that displays a good appreciation of post-rock. For evidence, listen to how opener Norwegian Wood spends its first half building up in a long intro, the mid-section pause for breath during IQ84, and even the waltz-tempo section of Underground. Screamo and post-rock have made for comfortable bed-fellows before, but the influence here is very apparent.
The more “screamo” sections are pretty good, too. Picking out a few examples across the record does it a disservice – especially the guitars, which play some superbly emotive leads throughout the album. But the way the vocals and guitars interact during South Of The Border, West Of The Sun is a definite highlight, as is the bass work during the first third of Kafka On The Shore, before the guitars steal the show once more. The way that the band go from full-on intensity to calmer sections so suddenly and naturally is also worthy of praise.
Ultimately, it’s the kind of record that, if I listened to it without looking at the sleeve or info, I would almost expect it to have been released on Ebullition at some point during the 90s. Though that’s a little unfair, as it suggests that the music is somehow dated or a copy of what has gone before, which is not the case; the band are influenced by what has gone before, not copying it . Instead, it makes total sense that Dog Knights are putting it out, and is another excellent record in their discography. Highly recommended.